Villanueva bats for free licensure exam fees for indigents

SENATE Majority Leader Joel Villanueva filed a bill which seeks to waive any Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) examination fees to encourage those who cannot afford to pay to take professional licensure exams.


Senate Bill No. 1323 or the “Free Professional Examinations Act”, which Villanueva filed on September 2022, will lessen the financial burden on graduates who need to undergo professional licensure exams. 


The Majority Leader said that Dexter Valenton’s achievement as the first Aeta to pass the Criminology Board Exam should be celebrated.


“Dexter is not only an inspiration to the Aeta community but to every Filipino to never stop dreaming and achieving their goals,” he said. 


Under the proposed measure, a qualified indigent refers to “a person who has no visible means of income or support, or whose income is insufficient for the subsistence or basic needs of his/her family, as may be determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).”


According to the PRC, 633,551 examinees took the board exams in 2022 of which 311,381 are first time examinees.


Under the bill, first time applicants may be entitled to a 100% exemption of the examination fee and 50% of the examination fee if the examinee needs to retake the exam. 


The prescribed fees for PRC examination ranges from ₱400 to ₱1,300 depending on the degree and type of examination. Meanwhile, the Career Service Examination for Professional and Sub-Professional Levels of the CSC requires an examination fee of ₱500. On top of examination fees, applicants also incur additional expenses on review fees and other related expenses prior to taking the licensure examination.


“It saddens me to think that some of our graduates will not be able to apply what they studied for just because they cannot afford to pay for the examination fee to get their professional license or civil service eligibility,” he said.


The Majority Leader also stressed that while the country’s unemployment rate is going on a downward trend, the high rate of underemployment is still a cause for concern.  


As of November 2022, Unemployment rate is at 4.2% which is equivalent to 2.18 million Filipinos while underemployment is at 14.4% or 7.16 million Filipinos.


“We are determined to look for solutions in fighting unemployment woes in the country which is why we are pushing for measures such as this to help ensure that every Filipino will not only have a job but a quality job which fits their qualifications,” the Majority leader said.


Villanueva is the principal author and sponsor of the First Time Jobseekers Assistance Act which waives government fees for documents needed by first time jobseekers as a requirement for employment.